Parents have an obligation under the law to provide support for their children. When parents divorce each parent still retains that duty. Child support is a form of payment that must be made by the parent who does not have custody of the children after a divorce. If one parent has sole custody of the children, then that qualifies as supporting the child. The other parent, who does not have custody, must make monetary payments to contribute to the care of the children. In cases of joint custody, child support payments are based on the parents’ relative incomes and the amount of time the children spend with each of them.
The amount of child support varies considerably both from state to state and from case to case. Some of the factors considered when deciding how much the supporting parent will pay include:
- How much the parent with custody makes, has, and needs
- How much the parent without custody can afford to pay
- The children’s educational, health, and other needs
- What the children’s standard of living was before the divorce
The law takes child support payments seriously. If a parent fails to pay court-ordered child support, several different enforcement acts can be used to compel him or her to pay. In cases where the owing parent refuses to pay, he or she may face time in jail.
Child support must be paid until one of the following conditions is met:
- The child reaches the age of 18 or 21 (depending on the state)
- The child is legally emancipated
- The child goes on active military duty
Support may be required longer if the child is in college or if he or she has special needs.
Contact a Family Law Attorney
If you have questions about child support or any other family law matters, please contact an attorney in your area.